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“Nuisance” nurse wins whistleblowing claim

In Smith v Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, a nurse won his claim for unfair dismissal, with the Employment Tribunal finding he had been dismissed for making protected disclosures.

The nurse, a trade union representative, made several disclosures between 2013 and 2014 about his colleagues being bullied and harassed by managers and not receiving adequate rest breaks, as well as regarding patient care issues and a lack of equipment and supplies.

Following his disclosures, the nurse was subject to a “witch hunt”, with the Trust accusing him of being disruptive in meetings and of sending confidential emails to his personal email address. He was dismissed for gross misconduct.

The nurse was subject to a “witch hunt”

Despite succeeding in his claim in the first instance, the EAT remitted the case back to the ET to consider whether the nurse had been dismissed primarily because he was a ‘nuisance’.

The ET upheld its original decision, finding the decision-makers were very aware of the disclosures when they dismissed him, and that they viewed him as a nuisance because he had made the disclosures. The case reminds employers of the need to carefully consider their treatment of a potential whistleblower, irrespective of whether the employee is viewed as a nuisance.

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